I’m often asked what the difference is being pregnant with twins versus a singleton. Truth be told, given the last time I was pregnant Mr Blobby was top of the pops (cue lots of HILARIOUS jokes at my expense) and mobiles were as embryonic as Joe so we had to make social arrangements via pigeon post (oddly enough, this meant people actually stuck to arrangements and were on time, hrmpf)…it’s all a bit blurry. I DO remember being able to wear normal Miss Selfridge dresses, making use of the then empire line vogue. I think I had a bit of a craving for crabsticks and lychees (often at the same time), both of which Joe likes to this day. At the beginning I lay around a lot watching Going for Gold, but then so did everyone else at University. I DON’T remember any major discomfort, I continued with my degree right up to the end, and I even went clubbing the night before.
It’s telling that a few months ago I was barking ‘I’m pregnant, not disabled!’ but now am screaming even louder ‘I’m effin’ pregnant! YOU get it!’ Now, this may be more about being 38 and no longer a spring chicken – in fact I’d be one of those birds recommended to hold up to slow cooking in a coq au vin. But this pregnancy has been something of an exercise in endurance, and also has revealed lots of entertaining conditions I never knew existed. As in the following exchange:
Me: My nose is constantly streaming and I sneeze nine times in a row which is annoying in itself but also in the, well, you know, pelvic floor department.
Midwife (nodding sagely): Ah, yes, that’ll be the Nose of Pregnancy. Pregnancy rhinitis. You become very sensitive.
Me: So can I take some Piriton?
Then at the subsequent appointment:
Me: This is going to sound weird, but I am just really itchy. Especially the bump. My skin’s hyper sensitive and sometimes I can’t bear to be touched. It’s worse at night, just constant scratching.
Midwife (nodding sagely): Ah, yes, that’ll be the Itch of Pregnancy. Sometimes people draw blood.
Me: So can I take some Piriton?
Or the next:
Me: I can’t breathe. My rib cage feels like it’s cracking and bending. My bra is like an iron mask.
Midwife (nodding sagely): Ah, yes, that’ll be Rib Flare. Your ribs are moving up and apart to make room.
Me: It’s agony, can I take some Nurofen? Codeine?
Midwife: One Paracetamol.
And then, over Christmas:
Me: I actually cannot walk. My pelvis is agony, it feels like it’s coming apart.
Midwife (nodding sagely): Yes, that’s because it is. The ligaments are softening in preparation for the babies coming through.
Me: So can I do anything?
Me: Er, right.
This last condition actually developed into full blown Pelvic Disorder. Essentially (and apologies to my more medically clued up readers) the elastic holding your pelvis together, and to your backbone becomes a bit like an old knicker band, and you’re just not connected. Your legs don’t seem to work properly and there are jabbing pains everywhere. Eventually (6 weeks of lobbying) I got seen by a Physio who gave me a brilliant if unsexy support belt which made a real difference.
Other things I’ve noticed have been:
- the aforementioned temporary cheese allergy, and a constant craving for salt. My default snacks are rice cakes with salt sprinkled on, microwave salted popcorn…I wonder whether it’s my body trying to make me drink more, like an evil cinema owner?
- swollen feet – actually sufficiently swollen to make walking even in the house pretty agonising
- morning, noon and night sickness – which lasted well into the second trimester (thanks Pampers et al for all your cheery ‘now you’re in the second trimester and full of energy!’ emails). Things that helped were peppermint tea, anything with ginger and (be quiet, judgy pants) Chicken Supernoodles.
- a walnut-sized bladder – Twin A has sat on it for most of the pregnancy and, as a result, I average 90 minutes during the night. What tends to happen is, still sleepy, I realise I need the toilet, decide if I ignore it that it’ll go away, which obviously it doesn’t, so then 10 minutes later, now wide awake, I stagger on my elephantine feet to the loo, squeeze out a thimble full, and then struggle to get back to sleep. Apparently this is Nature’s way of introducing me to broken sleep. Thanks Nature, you COW.
In all seriousness though, and for any expectant twin Mums reading this, the most debilitating symptoms have been just how draining it is, and an inability to sit upright. I swear I can feel the twins literally sucking the nutrients out of me. No matter how much I drink, I am permanently dehydrated. I am cramming food, but still feel listless and weak. Making it to the postbox at the end of the street is a source of triumph. I find it hard to concentrate. I have to make constant lists because otherwise it’s all a bit overwhelming.
And then there’s the pain. The twins are simultaneously pushing up on my ribs and down on my pelvis. When you combine that with how cramped they are and that therefore every kick is going to hit something rather vital, the back ache just from carrying so much weight…I was finding it nigh on impossible to sit in a meeting or at a desk by about half way through the second trimester, and therefore had to wind down at work a LOT earlier than I’d have liked.
So, sorry if that all sounds a bit bleak, but I wish I had been a bit better prepared and therefore wouldn’t have taken on some of the projects I did. Our bodies simply aren’t designed to carry two (because it’s not just two embryos, but also the sacs, placentas etc) or to feed them, so there are physical consequences and also the effects of having double the hormones (I do think I have been quite ferocious in my nesting and whenever I think Joe/Jon aren’t sufficiently prepared, maybe a bit more stressy than usual – as if).
But let’s end today’s lesson with something more cheery. The fact you’re expecting twins means, whilst people might not be aware of everything above, they automatically assume it’s harder, and therefore tend to be a bit more understanding and helpful. When you tell people you often get a ‘Oh wow, you must be exhausted’. They do seem to get the fact that you might need more rest, and earlier, than a normal pregnancy.
Now, if only they could combine that empathy with not saying ‘Jeez, you’re going to be HUGE’ (I think pretty much everyone I’ve told has said that, thank you very much, that makes me so excited)…BTW I’m not. Everyone (apart from Jon, who laughs at me especially when I’m waddling) comments on how ‘neat’ I am. It’s slightly pathetic how happy this makes me 🙂